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wall_street_2Today SynergyBlog learns that despite the economic woes that many American’s feel, the executives of AIG have decided that they deserve $165 million in bonuses.

This behavior is alarming, outrageous, and it’s the reason my dissertation will seek to understand the drivers of trust and distrust in brands and corporate leaders – and how to restore that trust once it is broken.

The executives at AIG should do a little research of their own. They should look into the lives of average Americans and think about whether they deserve one more cent (in addition to the $170 billion bailout money they’ve already recieved) of our hard-earned money.

According to CBS News American International Group is paying out millions of dollars in executive bonuses to meet a Sunday deadline. But the troubled insurance giant has agreed to administration demands to restrain future payments.

The Treasury Department determined that the government did not have the legal authority to block the current payments by the company that has already received more than $170 billion in U.S. support.

AIG declared earlier this month that it had suffered a loss of $61.7 billion for the fourth quarter of last year, the largest corporate loss in history.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has asked that the company scale back future bonus payments where legally possible, an administration official said Saturday.

This official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Saturday that Geithner had called AIG Chairman Edward Liddy on Wednesday to ask that Liddy renegotiate AIG’s current bonus structure. See full story here.

Is this ethical behavior? SynergyBlog is disgusted. How about you?

State-of-OhioToday SynergyBlog celebrates the companies in the State of Ohio who are most admired in their respective industries for being the best.

Companies are evaluated for leadership in people management,  innovation, corporate social responsibility, diversity, and financial management.

Congratulations. And thank you for all you do!
Company City
Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Akron
Chiquita Brands International Cincinnati
Cintas Cincinnati
Convergys
Cincinnati
Kroger Cincinnati
Procter & Gamble Cincinnati
Eaton Cleveland
American Electric Power Columbus
Limited Brands Columbus
Cardinal Health Dublin
Owens Corning Toledo

President ObamaPresident Obama’s director of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers, spoke to a forum on Friday and said that the nation’s economic crisis has led to an “excess of fear” among Americans that must be broken to reverse the downturn.

Mr. Summers stated that, “Fear begets fear,” and that “is the paradox at the heart of the financial crisis.”

“It is this transition from an excess of greed to an excess of fear that President Roosevelt had in mind when he famously observed that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself,” Summer said. “It is this transition that has happened in the United States today.”

Summers spoke amid new signs of a deepening recession. The U.S. trade deficit plunged in January to the lowest level in six years as the economic downturn cut America’s demand for imported goods, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The economic adviser said it’s still too early to gauge the broad impact of the president’s recovery program.

“But it is modestly encouraging that since it began to take shape, consumer spending in the U.S., which was collapsing during the holiday season, appears, according to a number of indicators, to have stabilized,” Summers told the Brookings Institution, a think tank.

Summers was asked by a member of the audience what the nation’s business community could do to help speed the recovery.

“What we need today is more optimism and more confidence,” Summers said.

SynergyBlog agrees – and we’ve decided that we are going to do our part to end the recession by not allowing it to self-fulfill.

We need to establish trust in the marketplace and in our organizations. To do that we must do the following:

  1. Deliver Excellence in the products we make and services we provide. Every time.
  2. Exude a level of Goodwill that can be detected in the things we do and say. Is it that difficult to help a neighbor or a colleague in need?
  3. Maintain the highest level of Ethical Standards in your industry sector. Promote integrity in word and deed.
  4. Create Value for our clients, constituents, strategic partners, and colleagues. Ask yourself daily, “Have I delivered on my brand promise?”
  5. Listen to the needs of stakeholders and act on what you hear. Responsiveness can make the difference between success and failure in these economic times.

By continuing to exemplify trustworthiness in the marketplace, we fuel the engine of confidence in the economy. One business at a time.

See the full AP story here.

apple computer logoFortune Magazine released the names of their annual list of the Most Admired Companies in the World 2009 today.

For those of us who value corporate responsibility from every perspective, the list shows no real surprises.  Here are the top five:

1. Apple
2. Berkshire Hathaway
3. Toyota Motor
4. Google
5. Johnson & Johnson

Fortune surveyed 689 companies from 28 countries. There were 64 industries involved in the survey, 25 international industries and 39 U.S. industries.

Fortune researchers asked executives, directors, and analysts to rate companies in their own industry on nine criteria, from innovation to corporate social responsibility.

  • Innovation
  • People Management
  • Use of corporate assets
  • Social responsibility
  • Quality of Management
  • Financial soundness
  • Long-term investment
  • Quality of products/service
  • Global competitiveness

According to Fortune, here are the stories of the top five most admired companies:

Apple:

It’s been a rocky year for Apple: CEO Steve Jobs’ health made headlines, and critics said Cupertino wasn’t being open enough about it. But customers remained loyal to the brand that made white ear buds cool. As much of the computer industry struggled, Apple shipped 22.7 million iPods during its first quarter (up 3 percent from last year), 2.5 million Macs (up 9 percent), and 4.4 million iPhones. No wonder Apple tops our Most Admired list for the second year in a row. —Alyssa Abkowitz

Berkshire Hathaway:
Warren Buffett’s firm helped beleaguered General Electric and Goldman Sachs wrestle with the financial crisis by purchasing billions in their preferred stocks. Still, Berkshire itself suffered this year, with Class A shares falling 49% since their peak in Dec. 2007, as its investments in Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp and American Express got hit hard. But as one financial advisor told Reuters: “[Buffett] admits when he is wrong. You don’t get candor from other CEOs. That’s why his credibility is so high.” –A.A.

Toyota Motor:
As U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler went crawling to Washington for help, Toyota was still looking relatively strong. But the global downturn still took a toll: For the first time since 1950, in February Toyota forecasted that it would post a net loss — almost $4 billion in its 2008 fiscal year. Just days earlier, the company named Akio Toyoda, the grandson of renowned founder Kiichiro Toyoda, as president. By going back to the basics, the world’s largest and richest automaker hopes to drive its earnings north again. –A.A.

Google:
The company whose streamlined web search is so popular it’s become a verb just keeps on innovating. Who else would think to offer e-mail accounts with Goggles, a feature that premiered in October, to prevent us from sending drunken messages? Even as the rest of the tech industry struggles, Google’s ad revenue continues to grow. Still, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s enviable perks took a (small) hit this year: Its New York office will have shorter cafeteria hours and no afternoon tea. Free gourmet food is still on the menu, though. –A.A.


Johnson & Johnson:
Millions of people use J&J’s products, which include Listerine, Tylenol and Neutrogena. And the health care company is diversifying to make sure it doesn’t become overly dependent on drugs with expiring patents: It recently partnered with Vanderbilt University to develop drugs to combat schizophrenia and acquired Mentor Corp., a breast-implant producer. But for the first time in 76 years, J&J forecasts that its annual revenue will fall, dropping to between $61 billion and $62 billion from $63.7 billion in 2008. –A.A.

During these difficult economic times it does our hearts good to see companies that innovate, are socially responsible and fiscally responsible, who treat their people well and value the communities in which they live. Are they rewarded with great reputations and strong brands? Yes. Do the accolades transform into profits? Yes. Can any company, group, or individual duplicate these successes? Absolutely.

See full story on CNN Money here.

Monetize Brand In a faltering economy, Brand Trust is the most powerful tool corporations, nonprofit organizations, and even individuals, possess.

To establish a trusted brand means more than to present pretty logos and fancy slogans.

Your brand foundation should be one that is authentic; built on the integrity of your products and services, and recognized for the passion and value you and your organization bestows upon the world.

Follow these nine steps to create the perfect brand pitch. Your brand equity and the opportunity to monetize your brand reach will double within the next twelve months.

We bet our brand on it!

Continue Reading »

ants-moving-together2We at Synergy Marketing Strategy & Research, Inc. have been thinking a lot about collaborations in our business model. In today’s economy every business leader should be. But we think what’s interesting lies beyond the economic conditions in which we find ourselves. For example, how and why does collective action work? What are the cultural, organizational, and structural antecedents to a successful collective action? Equally as importantly, why do collaborative efforts so often fail?

Ostrom, in Governing the Commons, tries to discover the characteristics of organizations which collaborate to provide for the collective good. By contrast, in The Logic of Collective Action, the seminal work on collective action, Olson asks about the conditions under which people contribute sufficiently enough for the collective good to materialize. He ponders why we so often design organizations which discourage achievement of the collective good. Continue Reading »

dan-golemanAs a long-time admirer of TED, SynergyBlog is pleased to have happened upon this inspirational piece from Daniel Goleman. Dr. Goleman studies, writes, and lectures on Emotional Intelligence along with Case Western Reserve University’s Dr. Richard Boyatzis.

As you listen to Dr. Goleman, perhaps it will do your heart good to reflect on all of the times you were a Good Samaritan (we know you have been).

Did, in those moments, you become the leader you have always wanted to be? Did “Brand You” become so much more than just a slogan? It’s not to late to bring those moments of pure goodness back in our words and deeds, both inside and outside of our corporate lives. We can bring them back, and we should. Again and again.

Please click here to watch Dr. Goleman. Enjoy!

P.s. There’s also a wonderful talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on creative genius… brilliant!